Thursday, June 20, 2013

Galapagos

Galapagos, May 12th - 18th, 2013
Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Espanola & Floreana Islands

In May this year, I joined Geir, Morten and Helge on a 4 day live aboard cruise in the Galapagos.  Geir was checking out the Haugan Cruises catamaran Cormorant for his EcoExpeditions travel company portfolio and the rest of us tagged along for the experience.

 
Helge, Morten and Geir at the upper deck of the Cormorant.  The catamaran took 16 passengers and had a crew of 10.  Food and service onboard was excellent ... not exactly your typical back packers hostal.
 
Helge and Geir brought their big "guns".  This is not really necessary for wildlife photography in the Galapagos.  The wildlife is really up close.  All my photos were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 (above water) and a GoPro Hero 3 Silver (below water).  Here the guys are shooting nesting albatrosses ... each shooting across a trail at an albatross right next to the other guy.  Much of the wildlife is endemic to Galapagos and I have tried to give Wikipedia references for the more interested reader.

Pelican at the Santa Cruz fish market.  These pelicans and numerous sea lions come in with the fishing boats looking for goodies.

Galapagos is famous for the giant Galapagos Tortoise.
 
This particular tortoise was cooling of in the local mud hole.

Galapagos marine Iguana.

Pink Flamingos.  For some people, seeing these pink flamingos is worth the whole trip to Galapagos.  We saw these pink flamingos close to Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island.
 
 
The Galapagos Iguanas come in many different colors.  This one had a particularly pretty red head.  

Nesting Waved Albatross on Isla Espanola.

Masked Boobies on Isla Espanola.
 
Galapagos Sea Lion basking in the sun.

Sea Lion family.  The "families" stay close together when they are resting on the beach.  Whenever an unfamiliar sea lion would try to join the group there would be a wild uproar and it would be chased away.

Red rock crab (Grapsus grapsus) were plentiful along the beaches and made for fun and colorful photo objects.

Blue Footed Boobies on Isla Espanola.


My favorite beach.  Located on Isla Floreana; 5 minutes walk from Punta Cormorant.
 
Gordon Rocks ... fabulous dive site.  This is a good place to see Hammerhead Sharks.
 
Kicker Rock ... another good dive site.  We snorkeled here and saw lots of Eagle Rays and Galapagos sharks.

Devil's Crown ... beautiful looking dive site that we, unfortunately, never got to try.  Maybe next time?
 
While in the Galapagos I just had to do a bit of diving and snorkeling.  The water conditions are quite variable in the Galapagos, entirely dependent on currents and can change from day to day.  At Gordon Rocks, we had limited visibility (50-60 ft) but we saw numerous large Hammerheads, Eagle Rays, Sea Turtles, and loads of local tropical fish.


The ubiquitous Passer Angelfish
 
Enjoying life between dives ...

Sea lions were everywhere and they were extremely friendly and playful.

Stingray.

Surgeonfish.


 
One of the main reasons to dive at Galapagos is the Hammerhead Shark.  We were fortunate enough to see Scalloped Hammerheads at Gordon Rocks.  The one in these pictures was about 10-12 ft (3-4 meters) long.  Farther north by Wolf and Darwin islands the get to be almost 20 ft!

 
My GoPro Hero 3 produced some stunning underwater video.  When I finish editing the videos they will be posted here, so stay tuned.
 
Having visited Galapagos left me wanting more (even though it takes 2 full days just to get there).  Perhaps my next trip will be to the Northern islands of Wolf and Darwin to see schools of Hammerheads and maybe even a Whale shark.

2 comments:

Claudia Rivera said...

Amazing pictures...one day we'll go...still on our bucket list!!
Glad to know you had a great adventure :-)

Aaron Jonathan said...

It's Aaron and Denise, the campers from Tambopaxi. Thank you for the tips we summited Cotopaxi on the morning of June 12th. We hope you had good fortune with Chimborazo!